Noh Goes to the Movies: Aoi/Komachi

Floor Model: Aoi

Saw Takeshi Kawamura's Aoi/Komachi at the Japan Society over the weekend. This year, its 100th anniversary, the japan Society has made a great effort to offer more performance events. Pretty great ones, too: Basil Twist, Big Dance Theater, Koosil-Ja Hwang. The Kawamura pieces are part of Noh Now!, contemporary adaptations of classic noh plays.

Kawamura seems a very cinematic director. The first piece Aoi, could have been a theatricalized and ghosty version of Shampoo, while Komachi transmuted Sunset Boulevard to postwar Japan.

The first piece delights more than the second, if only because one acclimates to Kawamura's distinctive aesthetic very quickly. At first, it's surprising. By the second act, it's familiar. He does beautifully marry contemporary technology (screens, projections, etc.) to classical Japanese theatrical techniques (such as black-hooded stagehands). He's also very sensitive to light, shadow, and color on the stage. he restricts most of his props and outfits to a black-and-white palette, splashes of red, even flesh tones are striking.

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